As you might have heard, the world received the tragic news over the weekend that Emmy-winning actor and activist Ed Asner died on Sunday morning at the age of 91.
Asner was a legend in the business, not only from his acting work over the years, but also his political activism and work to better the industry, such as his two terms as President of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Asner played a critical role in the 1980 SAG actors strike.
Asner first made a name for himself as the gruff editor Lou Grant in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and then its spin-off series, Lou Grant, becoming the first actor to play the same character in a comedy and a drama series. Asner was nominated for Emmys for playing that role 12 times, winning five of those Emmys. He received two further Emmys for roles in 1976’s Rich Man Poor Man and 1977’s classic, Roots. Asner was nominated three more times after his final nomination as Lou Grant in 1982. Asner also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from SAG in 2001.
Younger people would know Asner from his roles in the 2003 holiday comedy Elf, voicing the main character of Carl in Pixar Animation‘s Up, and most recently in his role as Sid on the Netflix series, Cobra Kai.
All day Sunday, tributes came into Asner from his many friends and colleagues who he had worked with in Hollywood and who had inspired millions, including many journalists.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said of the group’s national board member, “There have been few actors of Ed Asner’s prominence who risked their status to fight for social causes the way Ed did. He fought passionately for his fellow actors, both before, during and after his SAG presidency. But his concern did not stop with performers. He fought for victims of poverty, violence, war, and legal and social injustice, both in the United States and around the globe.”
You can read a few of the other social media tributes below:
“Hey, you’ve got spunk!
I hate spunk.”
A great performer and a great guy. Working with him and learning from him was an honor.
So many wonderful roles but Lou Grant was one for the ages. #RIPEdAsner
— Jon Cryer (@MrJonCryer) August 29, 2021
I am heartbroken to say goodbye to our friend #EdAsner who graced #CentralParkTV as the voice of Bitsy’s brother Ambrose. He was a Legend, a beautiful soul and a truly brilliant actor. Love you sir! We will miss down here, but smiling that you are have fittingly gone Up. pic.twitter.com/EAjuW9a3J5
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) August 29, 2021
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Asner is the fourth major player from Mary Tyler Moore to die this year after Gavin McLeod, who died in May at the age of 90; Cloris Leachman died in January at the age of 94; and Allan Burns, James L. Brooks‘ long-time writing partner and co-creator of the show, who died at 85. Moore herself died in 2017 at 80.
The Cat 4 Hurricane Ida that hit Louisiana on Sunday left productions like Ava Duvernay‘s series, Cherish the Day, and the Will Smith movie, Emancipation, scrambling to batten down the hatches or evacuate before the storm hit land on the anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina.
Cherish the Day was working on the sixth episode of its eight-episode second season on Thursday when it shutdown with a shelter-in-place order, but then, the OWN series instead dedicided to vacuate on Friday morning. The show’s exec. producer and Array Filmworks boss, Paul Garnes told Deadline, “Like all productions and studios, we’re working to figure out what the best course is. We have a hurricane plan that we put in place before every season, just for this particular emergency. As the weather and the storm quickly turned from not coming to New Orleans to being a tropical storm to being a Hurricane 1 and now (this morning) projected as a Hurricane 3, we escalated up that plan.”
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell had called for anyone who lived outside the city’s protective levee system to evacuate ahead of Ida’s landfall, which as presumed, was fairly devastating.
Emancipation, directed by Antoine Fuqua for Apple Original Room, reserved a block of rooms in Atlanta — ironic, since the original plan was to film there, plans that were changed due to the state’s restrictive voting law that was passed — and offered shuttle buses to any of the cast and crew who wanted to follow the evacuation order ahead of the storm.
All cast and crew received the following text message:
As of this moment, the area is still under a voluntary evacuation.
The production has secured rooms beginning tonight in Atlanta (see below). Any and all crew who would like to evacuate can self drive, or busses will be available from the Production Office…tomorrow morning at 7am. Parking will be provided at the back entrance of the production office parking garage.
Should a mandatory evacuation be ordered by the location authorities all distant cast and crew are strongly encouraged and advised to depart the city by 7:00am tomorrow, 8/28. Should any local crew require hotel rooms, they are encouraged to also take advantage of our block of Atlanta hotel rooms.
If you plan to travel to Atlanta, please let the production team know asap so we can coordinate when you will arrive and how you will travel. It’s important that we have accurate numbers for the busses and also know your whereabouts at all times during the duration of the storm.
Another series that had to suspend its preproduction was the NBC/Blumhouse series, The Thing About Pam, starring Renée Zellweger and Josh Duhamel. Now that the storm has passed, we’re awaiting any news about production in the area returning to work, although one of the biggest effects of the storm were the massive power outages taht knocked out power for millions in the area.
Greg Mottola took to Twitter to report that he had finished shooting his spy comedy Confess, Fletch and was heading into post.
Wrapped on #ConfessFletch and start cutting tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/CvqV0BqyQk
— greg mottola (@gregmottola) August 29, 2021
Another problem hitting production these days seems to be actors not willing to get vaccinated, if you can believe that. If you aren’t reading Matthew Belloni‘s amazing bi-weekly Emailing newsletter What I’m Hearing…, then you definitely should. On Thursday, he reported about actors in Zone A who are flat-out saying “no” to the vaccine mandates that have been introduced to production in the latest COVID protocols.
A few days later, Deadline reported on the controversy that had hit the set of ABC‘s long-running soap, General Hospital, when Steve Burton, a longtime star of the show, tested positive for COVID-19 and claimed to have gotten the virus at work. At the same time, another star, Ingo Rademacher, lashed out on social media as a vocal vaccine mandate opponent, and Nancy Lee Grahn, another member of the cast, called on SAG-AFTRA to address the unsafe working conditions.
We’ve heard a few issues among below-the-line crew unhappy about the vaccine mandates as well, although production has been one of the industries that was able to get back to work quickly last year, and obviously, no one wants it to shut down again.
In significantly brighter news, it was announced that Netflix would be giving the former NBC series, Manifest, a 20-episode 4th season after the series was cancelled by NBC. This is big news after weeks of uncertainty whether anyone would pick up the series that has grown in popularity since Netflix began streaming the first two seasons. Produced by Jeff Rake Productions and Compari Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television and Universal Television, Jeff Rake remains the creator, showrunn and exec producer, saying in a statement, “What started years ago as a flight of fancy deep in my imagination has evolved into the jet engine journey of a lifetime. Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned the worldwide outpouring of love and support for this story, its characters, and the team who work so hard to bring it all to life. That we will be able to reward the fans with the ending they deserve moves me to no end. On behalf of the cast, the crew, the writers, directors, and producers, thank you to Netflix, to Warner Bros., and of course to the fans. You did this.”
The series logline reads as follows:
“When Montego Air Flight 828 landed safely after a turbulent but routine flight, the crew and passengers were relieved. Yet in the span of those few hours, the world had aged five years — and their friends, families and colleagues, after mourning their loss, had given up hope and moved on. Now, faced with the impossible, they’re all given a second chance. But as their new realities become clear, a deeper mystery unfolds and some of the returned passengers soon realize they may be meant for something greater than they ever thought possible in this emotionally rich, unexpected journey into a world grounded in hope, heart, and destiny.”
In other TV renewal news, AMC renewed Kevin Can Go F Himself, starring Annie Murphy from the Emmy-winning Schitt’s Creek, for a second season, while Netflix renewed Cobra Kai, another series it saved from cancellation, for a fifth season.
From Deadline comes the news that two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz has become a series regular on the Hulu drama, The Girl from Plainville, opposite Elle Fanning, Colton Ryan, and Chloë Sevigny. The series comes from Liz Hannah, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Post, and Dr. Death EP Patrick Macmanus, who cowrote the series and will serve as co-showrunners and EPS along with Fanning, Echo Lake’s Brittany Kahan Ward. Consulting producers include Jesse Barron, who wrote the original Esquire article on which the show is based, and Erin Lee Carr. Kelly Funke will oversee for Macmanus’ Littleton Road Productions. UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, is the studio. Emmy-winning screenwriter and director, Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids are Alright) is lined up to direct the first two episodes.
The drama stars Fanning as Michelle Carter and is inspired by the true story of her controversial “texting suicide” case, exploring her relationship with Conrad “Coco” Roy III (Ryan) and the events that led to his death and, later, her controversial conviction of involuntary manslaughter. Butz will play Coco’s father, Conrad “Co” Roy II, who is toughened by life and work at the docks and on the boats in Mattapoisett, MA, Co is forced to face his own mistakes as a father and sets out to come to terms with the death of his son.
Daniel Webber (who played Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil in The Dirt) has been cast to play Jessie Evans in the Epix drama series, Billy the Kid, with Tom Blyth playing the title character in the hour-long drama written by Vikings and The Tudors creator, Michael Hirst. Otto Bathurst (Robin Hood) is directing the first two episodes of the eight-episode first season that’s described as “an epic romantic adventure based on the life of Billy the Kid. Also known as William H. Bonney, it tracks his humble Irish roots and early days as a cowboy and gunslinger in the American frontier to his pivotal role in the Lincoln County War and beyond.” Evans meets Bill the Kid when they are teenagers, a time in which Evans has already begun his life of crime, which influences Billy to do same. The series is executive produced by Hirst, Donald De Line of De Line Pictures, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey of Amblin Television, Bathurst, and Toby Leslie via One Big Picture. It’s a co-production of Epix Studios and MGM International Television Productions, in association with Nordic Entertainment Groups streaming service Viaplay.
Paramount+ has given a series order for a new Esports docu-style comedy called Players from the Peabody Award-winning American Vandal co-creators Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault, Funny or Die, Riot Games, and CBS Studios. Co-created and executive produced by Yacenda and Perrault, who also directs, Players follows a fictional pro League of Legends esports team, as they pursue their first championship after years of close calls and heartache. To win it all, they will need their prodigy, a 17-year-old rookie, and their 27-year-old veteran to put their egos aside and work together. CBS Studios and Funny or Die are producing the series with Funny Or Die’s Joe Farrell and Mike Farah serving as exec. producers, along with Tim McAuliffe, Riot Games, 3Arts’ Ari Lubet, and Brillstein Entertainment Partners’ Todd Sellers.
Earlier this morning, Apple TV+ announced that Jon Stewart‘s single-issue current affairs series, The Problem with Jon Stewart, will begin on September 30.
Moving onto some movies…
Oscar-winning singer and songwriter H.E.R. will be making her acting debut, playing Squeak in the upcoming Warner Bros. movie musical The Color Purple movie musical, which recently cast Corey Hawkins from In the Heights as Harpo and already has a release date of Dec. 21, 2023.
Jason Statham has attached himself to a film called The Bee Keeper being produced by Miramax, which will go into production in London and Atlanta starting September 2022. The thriller is based on Kurt Wimmer‘s spec script which the studio bought for seven figures with Miramax currently seeking a director. Statham, Wimmer, and Miramax CEO Bill Block will produce.
Apple and Skydance are teaming up for Ghosted, a feature that would reunite two actors from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans, for a movie written by Deadpool‘s Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese that will be directed by Dexter Fletcher (Rocketman). Wernick and Reese initially pitched and sold the idea to Skydance. Johansson and Evans are in early negotiations for the action-adventure that’s said to be in the vein of the 1984 action-comedy classic, Romancing the Stone.
black-ish creator Kenya Barrish has started to make moves on his recently-signed Netflix deal, and first up will involve him directing a comedy that will bring together Eddie Murphy and Jonah Hill, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Hil and Barris co-wrote the script for what will be Barris’ feature directorial debut, having been one of the writers on Murphy’s sequel Coming 2 America, which was released on Amazon Prime Video over three decades since the original movie. Details are being kept secret, but Hill and Barris will produce, the latter through Khalabo Ink Society banner and Hill through his Strong Baby shingle. Also producing is Kevin Misher of Misher Films, and its exec producers are Mychelle Deschamp and Hale Rothstein for Khalabo Ink Society; Strong Baby’s Matt Dines and Ali Goodwin; and Andy Berman of Misher Films. David Hyman and Charisse Hewitt Webster are also EPs for the movie that’s being described as “an incisive examination of modern love and family dynamics and how clashing cultures, societal expectations and generational differences shape and affect relationships” with Murphy and Hill on opposite sides of that divide.
Remember that you can keep track of all the projects above via our Production Listings, which has just reduced its price to just 68 cents a day.
The big news at the box office over the weekend was Universal‘s horror sequel Candyman grossing an estimated $22.4 million in 3,569 theaters, not only topping the box office, but shockingly, becoming the very first #1 movie directed by a woman of color. This gives Director Nia DaCosta quite a boost as she continues to prep her Marvel Studios movie, The Marvels, the sequel to the 2018 hit, Captain Marvel. Co-written and produced by Jordan Peele, the horror reboot starred Yahya Abdul-Mateen II from The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Teyonah Parris, who will also appear in The Marvels, reprising her WandaVision character, Monica Rambeau.
20th Century Studios‘ action-comedy hit Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds, dropped to second place with $13.6 million, a negligible sub-30% drop as it continues to bring in word-of-mouth business with $79.3 million grossed domestically so far. Adding in international box office, Free Guy has crossed the $100 million mark globally.
Paw Patrol: The Movie dropped to third place with $6.6 million and Disney‘s Jungle Cruise took fourth place with $5 million, as it crossed the $100 million milestone domestically after five weeks in theaters.
Over the weekend, Netflix released a very short teaser trailer for The Guilty, the thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, which is a remake of Gustav Moller’s 2018 Danish movie of the same name (which was Denmark’s submission to the Oscars.) In the movie, Gyllenhaal plays a troubled police detective who is demoted to 911 operator duty and scrambles to save a distressed caller. The movie will debut at the Toronto International Film Festival next month and will get a limited theatrical release on Sept. 24 before streaming on Netflix starring Oct. 1. The movie is written by Nic Pizzolato (True Detective) and directed by Antoine Fuqua.